TRAVELING

Best Solar Chargers: The Power of The Sun

Solar chargers review
Mark Foster
Written by Mark Foster

Portable Solar Phone Charger with 1-year Ironclad Guarantee – Sunferno 5000mah In this high-technology era, it is hard to get around without your mobile devices. Especially when you’re on a trip to other places, a dead battery will render these mobile devices useless. That is why we all need the best solar chargers to keep our mobile devices fully charged!

Taking the time to read and understand how the solar panel works is a very good place to start when it comes to choosing the most suitable solar phone charger for yourself.

Solar chargers perform best in direct sunlight on a clear day. To determine which solar phone charger works best, we’ve considered the latest technology that is available for an improved solar charger.

Understanding A Few Technical Terms Associated with The Solar Device

A little tip here is to gain a bit of knowledge to help you interpret the advertised power and whether this solar charger is the one you’re looking for. That involves Amperage, voltage, and watts! Not a physics student? That’s not a problem!

Creative Edge Solar Solar Charger

Think of voltage as the water pressure, current (measured in amps) as the flow rate and resistance (ohms) as the pipe size. Remember the formula: current(amps) is equal to the voltage (think water pressure!) divided by the resistance (or pipe size).

Here’s the working: Current = Voltage/resistance

Watts are a measure of electrical power, which is the voltage multiplied by the current.

Here’s the working: Watts = Voltage x current

Wattage

Smartphones such as iPhones are extremely power hungry, but the new generation of iPads is slightly better. Usually, you need at least a 7-watt panel to be sure you can charge most smart phones. So when you’re looking for a solar charger for your iPhone, a 4- or 5-watt panel works fine with these devices. It’s suitable for an mp3 player as well.

Unless you’re looking for a solar charger for a more energy-hungry tablet, you can look for a panel with at least 15 watts of power. This is suitable for charging multiple devices at once.

As for AC devices, this would be another category where you’ll need a heavy duty panel starting at 25 watts, a battery and a DC to AC inverter.

Solar devices for iPhones

We know that some people may be on a smaller budget and they may be considering solar panels with less wattage. Solar panels with less wattage may help you save money, but you will be frustrated when you realize that it’ll take a very long time for it to charge your devices.

It might take more than three hours to fully charge your device. The amount of time taken to fully charge a device can be reduced if you look for higher wattage solar panels.

Output Power

The output power of your device makes a huge difference! Be sure to match your needs to your amps or there could be a difference between charging the device and having a useless dead brick of a phone. Some manufacturers report the total amperage output of the ports combined, while others may report the max amperage of each port.

With this information, you can add them together to get a bigger amperage output. This shows that some panels report 2.1A max,  so when you plug in two devices, the power will be split between the two.

Output Power

When others that report a 2.1A max, it may really mean that one port provides 2.1 and the other gives you only 1A. The both of them can charge at the same time, but this is one of the specs that you have to pay good attention to when you’re purchasing them, as this may be difficult to tell. If you’re looking for one that charges fast and is powerful, get one with a high wattage.

Different Types of Portable Panels

There are different types of panels that you might want to consider, such as CIGS, Monocrystalline and Polycrystalline.

CIGS

CIGS is the abbreviated term for Copper, Indium, Gallium and Selenide. These kinds of panels are less costly to manufacture and it is very light in weight.

CIGS Solar panel

It’s great for outdoor use, with a very clear Achilles heel: they degrade quickly over time.

Monocrystalline

The rigid monocrystalline panels are more efficient, compared to the CIGS. However, the monocrystalline panels are heavier and less flexible if you were to compare it to the CIGS panels.

Monocrystalline portable panel

These are actually considered better for backcountry use.

Polycrystalline

Made up of silicon crystals, just like the monocrystalline panels, both types of cells are made of crystal ingots. Polycrystalline is made up of a growth of multiple crystal ingots. It is 18% efficient, whereas the monocrystalline is 22% efficient. Monocrystalline is more on the pricey side.

Polycrystalline solar panel

We would recommend those small-scale consumers to go for monocrystalline as they may be less concerned about the added cost on a relatively cheap personal-sized solar panel. Polycrystalline panels are considered less efficient when you compare it to monocrystalline panels.

What Are The Important Aspects for Selecting The Right Solar Charger for Your Devices?

When it comes to choosing the right solar charger for your mobile devices, you’ve got to consider the charging performance, the solar panel details, physical characteristics and also the help and support that is available after your purchase. It’s important to know the warranty of your purchased product.

The performance and its charging capability

Be sure to study the charging performance, from its size, type of panel and overall output of the battery for each device. Different devices may have different functionality.

High performance Portable Solar Charger Power Bank

Most devices are charged directly from the battery, but not all of them have the same relationship with the panel. Devices that charge from its battery can also be charged by the panel.

Portability

This important aspect is what most backpackers and campers look for when considering the purchase of a solar panel charger. Integrated solar panel or battery devices do not come with a storage system but they’re mostly designed to be compact so you can just put it in your backpack or stuff sack.

Most panels in the market that we’ve seen today come with an integrated pocket which is convenient for people to stash their devices, making it easy to pack up and carry.

High-performance portable solar charger

Light and portable options are certainly important factors to consider when it comes to buying the right solar panel charger for backpacking. Here’s a tip, even though you may see these solar panel chargers advertised as “emergency use only”, it means “don’t rely on the solar panel.”

So if these “emergency panels” meet your needs, be sure to purchase the solar charger that comes with 2 amp ports, or else it may struggle to charge your power-hungry devices.

Versatility

In the market, you’ll find most of the panels and chargers to have one or two USB ports, sometimes with different amperage ratings (2.1 amps for a tablet, 1 amp for your phone). It is great for charging a phone, tablet, camera or other devices with a USB charger.

The solar charging market has fully embraced the modern obsession with smartphones and tablets, so if you want to charge something, such as camera batteries that only connect to a wall outlet, the only way to charge it would be to get an inverter.

Portable solar devices versatility

Some panels may come with grommets to allow them to be easily hung to a backpack, tent or tree, and some come with the capability of daisy-chaining to other panels in order to generate a lot more power.

So before making a decision to purchase your solar panel chargers, it’s best to consider if these features can be found on the device so you can enjoy more convenience when you bring the charger out for your outdoor activities.

Solar Panels

When we’re talking about the quality of the solar panels, we’ll be looking at the efficiency. It is a good indicator of quality and it depends on the type of panel the solar charger uses. In the current market, you’ll be able to find first-generation crystalline silicon and second-generation panels which are better at generating electricity, even in places with low-light conditions.

Warranty

We understand it’s a quite an investment to get a good solar charger. But if you’re aiming for a good quality solar charger or just in the market browsing for a suitable one, it is important to know how long the warranty of the product is good for and how accessible you are to the customer support team.

Solar Chargers Recommended for Light Packers

We have also done our research and we have got our own thoughts and reviews on the different solar chargers right here to help you decide which solar chargers you should purchase. Consider the different types of solar chargers here and see if it fits your preferences.

GOAL ZERO 42020 Venture 30 Solar Recharging Kit

GOAL ZERO 42020 Venture 30 Solar Recharging Kit

Weight: 2.6 pounds

Dimensions: 4.5x 3.2 x 1inches

Specific features: It comes with a Solar Ready Built-in Charging Tip with no extra cables to lose! It charges up to 4 hours from USB and 9 hours of full sun from the Nomad. It is waterproof so it’s pretty fine for rainy weathers. It features a built-in Micro USB tip that is tangle-free for charging phones and tablets.

It also has certified cables for efficient charging. The Goal Zero 42020 Venture 30 Solar Recharging Kit has the power to handle what mother nature throws at it! With a high-speed USB 4.8A across dual ports, the two high-speed ports are capable of dishing out the fastest charge possible, so you can always share it with your buddy and charge two devices at the same time.

It features an integrated flood charge that optimizes your charging time.              

Best use: The Goal Zero 42020 Venture 30 Solar Recharging Kit is more than just any ordinary battery. It’s the perfect gadget to be brought along for your journey into the woods. No matter what weather it is, you can always continue with your activities with your essentials charged and ready for what happens next. Phones, cameras, and tablets are all suitable.

Related: Zzero 8000mAh Dual USB Waterproof Solar Phone Charger, SunJack 7W Portable Solar Charger

Powerad Apollo3 8000mAh Power Bank Solar Charger

Poweradd Apollo3 8000mAh Power Bank Solar Charger for iPhone, Samsung Galaxy and More Smartphones

Weight: 5.6ounces (0.35 pounds)

Dimensions: 5.5 x 2.9 x 0.6 inches 

Specific features: Black in color, the Powerad Apollo3 8000mAh Power Bank Solar Charger is compatible with almost any type of 5V USB-charged devices. It is lightweight and compact, you can easily fit it into any bag and carry it with you anywhere on the go!

It boasts a solar energy technology with its environmental friendly specs, giving it the capability to be recharge itself under the sunshine for emergency purposes when you’re outdoors. It has a high capacity of 8000mAh with 2 USB output, with one USB for cellphones (5V/1A) and the other USB for tablets (5V/2.1A).

It charges quick and is able to charge two devices at a time. Besides that, it consists of amazing build-in Li-ion Polymer Cells and microchips, that are high quality and has a long lifespan, with more than 500 charge cycles during the course of its life.

It also comes with 24-months limited product warranty. If you’re looking for a perfect on-the-go solution, this charger is the one.

Best use: For the best performance, it works well from -20 to 60 degrees centigrade. It is specially designed for emergencies but is not a primary source of charging because of its compact solar panel size, which may take a long time. You can charge the charger with an adapter or computer to shorten the charge time.

Brunton Power Essentials Kit-Explorer 2 Solar Panel

Brunton Power Essentials Kit-Explorer 2 Solar Panel with Inspire Power Pack

Weight: 1.9 Pounds

Dimensions: 3.5 x 0.8 x 3.8 inches

Specific features: The Brunton Power Essentials Kit-Explorer 2 Solar Panel with Inspire Power Pack comes in one size and is light in weight. You can easily connect it to the inspire power reservoir to make sure power hungry electronics stay amped even under low light conditions.

It is optimized for USB based digital music players, portable game consoles and smart phones. It consists of 1000 mA output, 5 volts, 14.8 oz(panel) and 5.5 oz battery. It also includes a survival kit if you’re thinking of purchasing it!

Best use: It is great for camping.

Levin Dual USB Port 6000mAh Portable Solar Panel

Levin Dual USB Port 6000mAh Portable Solar Panel Charger

Weight: 0.3 pounds

Dimensions: 5.6 x 3 x 0.5 inches

Specific features: The amazing Levin Dual USB port portable solar panel charger is the first rain-resistant and shock-proof solar charger in the world. It boasts a great solar energy technology and could recharge itself under sunshine. Compact and stylish, you can easily fit it into your bag to provide instant power.

The rain-proof design ensures that the device functions smoothly as it comes with a built-in battery with 1200mAh, so you can expect it to last up to 8 hours for emergency use when you’re outdoors.

It features a high capacity, built-in 6000mAh Lithium Polymer battery which charges via a powerful 1.2W monocrystalline solar panel. It has a 2.1A output which allows for simultaneous charging of the devices at high speed.

It is also anti-explosion, lightweight and very reliable. Other than that, it also features a perfect LED flashlight for the darker hours when you may need it for emergency cases. It has 4 LED status of charge indicators to indicate the charging and discharging process.

Best use: It’s best use for outdoor activities such as hiking and camping.

Powertraveller Solarmonkey Adventurer Mobile Charger

Powertraveller Solarmonkey Adventurer Mobile Charger

Weight: 2 pounds

Dimensions: 6.7 x 3.8 x 0.9inches

Specific features: This type of Solar Panel features MPPT technology. MPPT is also known as maximum power point tracker, an electronic DC to DC converter that optimizes the match between the solar array (PV panels) and the battery bank or utility grid.

It features a 3500 mAh solar compatible internal battery with a 4-colour LED that shows the level of charge. It also includes a 5V USB port output.

Best use: The Solarmonkey adventurer provides efficient charging so this is a great gadget for adventurers to bring along with them. It is made of toughened materials and it includes integral fixings, straps and a carabineer.

Backpackers, this solar charger may be just the one you’re looking for! It is able to make the most out of the day’s sunlight to recharge its internal battery on the go.

Portable Solar Phone Charger Sunferno

Portable Solar Phone Charger with 1-year Ironclad Guarantee - Sunferno 5000mah

Weight: 0.3 pounds (4.8 ounces)

Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.5 x 2.9 inches

Specific features: Unlike just any other ordinary brand, Portable Solar Phone Charger with 1-year Ironclad Guarantee – Sunferno 5000mah charges two devices simultaneously. It is able to get up to three devices completely charged. It features a usable battery capacity with 5000mAh.

It is also compatible with 99.9% of USB devices as it is constructed using premium A grade lithium icon polymer battery. The built-in 5000mAh battery has a high conversion rate so it’ll take about five to seven hours to charge using a wall socket or a car USB outlet.

It comes with a one-year Ironclad Guarantee when you order the charger, and it offers 1-year protection with money-back guarantee and a friendly customer service.

Best use: As It can be easily hooked to your bags and comes with an anti-skid textured surface with solid silicone exterior, it is the perfect solar phone charger for hikers, backpackers, campers or any outdoor enthusiasts.

Instapark Mercury 10M Solar Panel Portable Solar Charger

Instapark® Mercury 10M Solar Panel Portable Solar Charger

Weight: 0.81pounds

Dimensions: 9 x 6.2 x 1 inches

Specific features: The Instapark Mercury 10M Solar Panel Portabl Solar Charger features built-in dual USB charging ports for directly plugging in iPhone, iPad and other USB compatible mobile devices. It is a 10 Watt high-efficiency solar panel which comes with a 1 year manufacturer’s warranty.

No additional battery is needed for charging external devices and it is environmental friendly. Do expect 100% green energy with zero carbon footprint from this high-voltage solar panel portable solar charger.

Best use: This solar panel charger comes with a foldable design that offers excellent portability, ideal for emergency preparedness, backpacking, camping and outdoor activities.

Anker 15W Dual Ports USB Solar Charger PowerPort Solar Lite

Anker 15W Dual Ports USB Solar Charger PowerPort Solar Lite

Weight: 0.78 pounds

Dimensions: 11 x 6.3 x 0.8 inches 

Specific features: The Anker 15W Dual Ports USB Solar Charger PowerPort Solar Lite features a fast charging technology with PowerIQ that delivers the fastest possible charge up to 2.1amps under direct sunlight. It also comes with a 15 watt SunPower solar array which is 21.5% to 23.5% efficient, providing enough power to charge the two devices simultaneously.

You’ll find this solar charger incredibly durable as it boasts an industrial-strength PET polymer faced solar panels sewn into rugged polyester canvas which offers weather-resistant outdoor durability.

It is highly portable as well, and comes with an Anker PowerPort Solar Lite (15W 2-Port USB Solar Charger), 3ft Micro USB cable, welcome and a fan-favourite 18-month warranty and friendly customer service.

Best use: For all outdoor enthusiasts, this solar charger would be perfect for just any outdoor adventure. As it is highly durable, it would be easy for you to bring it around with its weather-resistance technology.

Related: Suaoki Portable 25W Solar Panel Phone Charger Dual USB Port Sunpower Monocrystalline Charging with TIR-C Technology for iPhone, iPad, Samsung and Other Digital devices

X-DRAGON High Efficiency 20W Solar Panel Charger

X-DRAGON High Efficiency 20W Solar Panel Charger with iSolar Technology

Weight: 1.6 pounds

Dimensions: 13.2 x 7.8 x 1.5 inches

Specific features: The X-Dragon high Efficiency Solar Panel Charger features an amazing automatically adjusted exclusive iSolar Technology with the capability to deliver its fastest possible current up to 2.4A under direct sunlight.

It consists of two output with 5V2.4A each. It is a high efficiency (22%-25% transformation efficiency) solar panel charger and comes with a dual-USB power with 20-watt sun power that provides enough power to charge a cellphone and iPad at the same time. It is slim and powerful.

Best use: Suitable for hikers and backpackers as it also comes with eyeholes that enable easy attachment to backpacks when you’re going on outdoor trips. Outdoor enthusiasts will find this a charger that is convenient as it is compact in size which is great for portability. It also comes with a 20W Foldable Solar Charger, carabiner, micro USB cable and instruction manual.

Related: Anker 21W 2-Port USB Solar Charger PowerPort Solar for iPhone, iPads and tablets

BLKBOX Portable Solar Charger for all USB Connectors

BLKBOX Portable Solar Charger for all USB Connectors

Weight: 0.75 pounds

Dimensions: 9.5 x 4.8 x 1.2 inches

Specific features: You’ll be able to get your iPhones, iPads and other tablets charged with this BLKBOX Solar Charger. The BLKBOX Solar charger is a perfect accessory to bring for traveling as it is available in different sizes and power outputs to meet any needs, with 5W Panel, 7W Panel, 10W and 12 W to choose from. It is lightweight, compact and has grommets for hanging.

Best use: It is the ideal solar charger for traveling as it is compatible with most popular gadgets such as Android and Apple devices, smartphones, GPS, Tablets, PS Vita and GoPro.

Hikers, backpackers and campers will love the portable solar charger as it comes with multiple functionality, being compatible with most devices, making it convenient for most travelers and adventurers.

Conclusion

A solar power from a portable panel is generally expensive but it can be the solution you need for your power-hungry devices during your outdoor trips and adventures. Keeping a critical eye open to the product reviews and descriptions would be a good idea before coming down to a decision on which is best for you to get.

We hope our reviews provide you with the extra help you need to choose the solar panel chargers for you.

Solar charger

The solar market is vast and growing, so it is best to pay more attention to the details than the looks before purchasing. Here’s our last buying tip: watch out for imposters in the realm of solar chargers and make sure you do your own research before purchasing solar panel chargers online!

What are your thoughts on this? We’d like to know what you think, so share your thoughts with us today!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Mark Foster
Mark Foster

Mark Foster loves to push his limits when it comes to survival in the wilderness. He might go for a 30-days adventure without any food or equipment except for a survival kit and a knife. We should mention that his survival kit has 122 items in it, so he know what he is doing. Mark is working on his book to share with the world all his experience gained during those brave adventures.

  • Andrew Richardson

    I took the Instapark Mercury 10M Solar Panel Portabl Solar Charger camping, with the intention of trying it out before deploying back to Afghanistan. This little guy is a beast. With the included battery we were able to play music on the iPhone all weekend long without any issues. We could even throw a second phone in there to charge when people needed it. I expected more of a trickle charge, while this thing will charge a phone to 74% in 1 hour. It won’t charge like a wall outlet, but I never expected it too. I am very impressed with this item, and have already ordered a second one for my fiance.

  • Mark Foster

    Good to know Andrew! For longer trips I also recommend the Powered Apollo3 8000mAh Power Bank Solar Charger. You can charge 2 of your gadgets and still have enough power to charge other devices. I also find that to “conserve” on the solar charger’s power, I usually charge my gadget and after the battery is “full” that’s the time I use it. If you continue to use your gadget while it is still connected on the power bank, you’ll replete your solar charger in no time.

  • John L. Streik

    I have a Power Monkey extreme. It is pricey (bought one for $140) but it is really worth it. I found out that I could get 20% charge on an iPhone 6 plus based on a few hours in the morning. It would have been fine for a long trip if it had not rained. The downside of it is, it’s actually heavy. But if you’re camping with a lot of people, it can really charge your things and is very durable. But for ordinary camping, I would suggest starting with Goal Zero Nomad 7 Solar Panel because it is really lightweight (along with 6 inches 5-in-1 USB adapter to charge things).

  • Mark Foster

    Choose the one that’s right for you – that includes making sure you can carry it without straining yourself. The Power Monkey extreme is an excellent product and so is the Goal Zero Nomad 7. Also, take a look at the capacity (mAh) and see if that’s enough for your gadgets. A higher mAh is always preferable especially for long trips.

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